Finding a Job

The Best Campus Job For Your Wallet’s Future

I have been fortunate enough to have at least some kind of job since I was about twelve. Starting with cutting grass for a sixth grade football coach, I worked my way from there through various snow shoveling adventures in the winters of Minnesota up to a movie theater job in high school. When I got to college, I decided to hold on to the movie theater gig for a little while. Even though the perks were good (free movies/popcorn/pop) I felt like it was time to find something on-campus after breathing all the mold in that place for over two years.

I thought I knew what I wanted to do.

The athletic center at my college may have been for D3 athletes, but it rivaled the quality of a D1 school’s facilities. It also had the cushiest job on campus – pressing a button to let people in and out of the gym after swiping their student ID cards. The job did come with a few more responsibilities than that, like cleaning and putting away equipment at the end of the night, but it was all pretty easy working at the gym.


The only problem? They weren’t hiring.

This was only halfway through my first year of college, so I figured I could go and find something else on campus for the time being. At least I could get into their payroll system and finally get the popcorn smell off my clothes. After looking around my school’s job board, I saw this posting for a role in the development office asking alumni for money. They had a phone center in one of our school’s main buildings where about 50 students per week made donation calls Monday-Thursday and sometimes Saturday.


Frankly, I was reluctant to do this. The idea of being a call center person sounded terrible.

Despite personal nerves with applying, the application was sent. The interview happened. I was lucky enough to be hired (not realizing HOW lucky at the time).

The value in this job was definitely not the $10/hour plus small commission. Nor was it the fun atmosphere with free coffee, tea and soda. It wasn’t even all the awesome people and friendships made working there.

The real value was never mentioned on the job posting.

What everyone who worked in this job really got out of it (if they lasted more than a week) was the power of rejection. A better way to say that: they became comfortable with rejection. Power just sounds more epic.

In every job and every industry, people constantly need to sell. They need to give convincing arguments to teammates about what to do, which vendor to work with, where they can get by doing x instead of y and how it will make their overall production quality better. When people sell, they inevitably face a lot of rejection.

Tim Ferriss likes to talk about his “real world MBA,” which involves learning through trial and error in real-world experiences instead of going to school. Consider your school’s phone center job a real world BA instead. You learn one of the most valuable skills for life, make some money and probably make a few friends along the way (I know I did).

This stuff cannot be taught in a classroom. Plus, there are always a few angry alumni who complain about things that are hilarious, like the campus’s grass being watered too much (true story).

If you plan on trying to take any action for an end-goal, knowing how to handle rejection is mandatory.

Plus, if you develop experience with a job like this early on in college, it opens the door for a lot of sales and marketing internships. Maybe this is the first you’re hearing of it, but a sales representative job is among the few positions where a person can make six figures in under four years and start immediately after graduation.

If you do have the time for a work-study job on campus, the phone center position might be the best call for your future.

Bob Buckley

Bob Buckley writes about food and business.